Bushcraft VS Survival Skills: One thing each discipline could teach you
Guest Blog by Yves Jean
Whether you are a bushcraft enthusiast or a hardcore survivalist, you may find that each discipline is different and does not necessarily correspond to your expectations. Among the people I have met, either during survival or bushcraft training, and in different social network groups, I often had people tell me: « bushcraft is not for me, I want to survive, not camp! », or « survival skills are not for me, I just want to enjoy my time in the woods. »
My answer to this is always the same: bushcraft or survival skills are all about training and practicing skills to become efficient. Overlooking what might be learned from each discipline will prevent you from improving yourself!
Bushcraft vs survival
Bushcraft would be a skillset to get into the woods, set up camp by rigging tarps, hammocks or building a primitive shelter, make fire, cook wild food with or without the aid of food you brought from home, these would be the basics and on a higher level, learn more about botany, animals tracking and trapping and let us say nature awareness.
Survival would be a skillset to, in an emergency, be able to protect yourself from danger or exposition to the elements, make fire, find food, and water and navigate to safety or signal yourself to rescuers.
So here are two things you could learn from survival and bushcraft to enhance your potential.
Bushcraft 1 survival 0
Master the tools of bushcraft: So, you are into survival, carry a knife you use to chop and split wood, no hard job cannot be carried out by your Mora Garberg, your Esse 5 or your Ka Bar BK9, perfect! But do you sometimes try other tools? How good are you at felling trees with an axe, making it fall in the direction you choose? Have you tried splitting wood with a saw? Do you use carving tools like a small carving blade, a mocotaugan, or a crooked knife to craft objects or tools? These are the kinds of things you should add to your skillset. Get a SAK, a mora, or a Case pocketknife and practice carving feather stick, net needles or try sticks to learn notches that will be helpful for campcraft and carving traps. Consider carving out a container like a kuksa, or a bowl. Mastering fine wood carving with a knife and a saw will develop your control of the blade and your ability to carve anything safely.
Survival 1 Bushcraft 0
Discover the plasticity or adaptability you can learn from Survival skills. The best way to do so, if you are a bushcrafter and never considered survival skills could teach you something is to try to do the things you usually do in the woods in each time. Try to set up camp, make fire, find resources within a certain time. As an example, Mors Kochanski did not consider the tipi fire as a survival fire. It is an exceptionally good way to lay your material and get a consistent fire efficiently; but it takes time to do so.
Adding the time factor to your habitual skills will drive you to get better at spotting the resources you need and knowing where to find them quickly when in an emergency. Try to light a stick bundle fire with resources you find in a limited area, five meters around your position, for example. You are used to execute every task you need to camp, do the same with a time limit and you will see how it will sometimes have you improvise and change your routine. Do the same for shelter building, get used to rigging a tarp or poncho full speed to have a minimum protection and then see how long it takes you to build a primitive shelter that is sturdy and insulated enough to get you through a first night safely.
These two points are just an example of what you could learn from two disciplines that are inter-related. Survival skills lead me to learn bushcraft and bushcraft regularly gives me challenges to see things through the survival perspective.
Here are a couple of books that are a must read and will give you skills to practice:
Survival the Wild by Joshua Enyart, forward by David Canterbury (pre-orders)
Essential Bushcraft by Ray Mears
Extreme wilderness survival by Craig Caudill
Survival handbook in association with the Royal Marines Commandos
Bushcraft by Mors Kochanski
No need to die by Eddie Mc Gee
These are some of our films that cover Survival and Bushcraft: